Oversight says reports of Holder contempt citation are false

A spokesman for the House Oversight Committee said reports that the committee met with Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office about moving ahead with a contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General Eric Holder are false.

“While the committee continues to move toward consideration of contempt, it is important to note that the next step in the process of contempt must be made by the Oversight Committee,” a committee spokesman told The Hill in an email. “Reports, based on anonymous sources, that decisions for consideration of contempt on the House floor have already been made are inaccurate.”

Late Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Boehner met with committee members and gave them the go-ahead to issue a contempt citation for what the committee says is Department of Justice obstruction into the investigation of the “Fast and Furious” botched gun-tracking operation.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a member of the Oversight panel, told Fox News on Friday that a letter had been drafted holding Holder in contempt of Congress.

“There is a 46-page document right now that is in draft form that would hold the Attorney General and Department of Justice in contempt,” Chaffetz said.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who also serves on the committee, told Fox News on Thursday that Holder has until Memorial Day to comply with the committee's request for documents, or be prepared to “suffer the consequences.”

“When I say consequences, I mean contempt of Congress,” Dowdy said.

But in a later interview on Friday with Fox News Channel’s America Live, HOC chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he hadn’t seen the citation.

“There is a document,” he said. “We haven’t seen this document … we have gone through and made the case for the various reasons that we have no choice left unless Justice changes their position and changes it quickly so that we can get legitimate discovery.”

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), has accused committee members of playing politics and is demanding to see the letter of contempt.

“Holding someone in contempt of Congress is one of the most serious and formal actions our committee can take, and it should not be used as a political tool to generate press as part of an election-year witch hunt against the Obama Administration,” Cummings wrote in a letter to his colleagues.

“Leaking a draft contempt citation that members of our committee have never seen suggests that you are more interested in perpetuating your partisan political feud in the press than in obtaining any specific substantive information relating to the Committee’s investigation,” the letter continued. “These actions undermine the credibility of the committee, as well as the integrity and validity of any contempt actions the committee ultimately may choose to adopt in the future.”

A spokesman for Republicans on the committee said the request was under review.

Justice says it has done its best to comply with the committee’s requests, but argues that the requests are cumbersome, and that it has already provided more than 6,000 pages of documents.

In addition, Holder says he is concerned that some of the information requested would jeopardize open investigations into the scheme, which authorized the sale of guns to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels.

This story was updated at 4:21 p.m.

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